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3:17pm UK, Saturday June 23, 2012
Torrential rain has brought flooding to large swathes of northern England, closing roads and businesses and forcing hundreds of people to leave their homes as more than a month’s worth of rain fell in 24 hours.
Clean-up operations are under way after water gushed through towns in Lancashire, Cumbria and West Yorkshire as nearby rivers burst their banks.
The Environment Agency said flood warnings were issued to more than 7,000 properties and more than 11,000 homes and businesses were protected by flood defences, with heavy rain and high winds expected to last until Sunday.
A spokesman said: “A month’s rain has fallen over parts of north west and north east England in the last 24 hours and with further rain expected we would urge the public to remain vigilant.
“We also urge the public to stay away from fast-flowing, swollen rivers and not to drive through floodwater.”
The Environment Agency also said it had mobilised teams across the North West to check and operate flood defences, clear any river blockages and closely monitor river levels.
The warnings come after hundreds of people spent the night battling rising flood water after rain brought chaos to parts of the country on Friday, flooding more than 70 homes.
There was 103mm of rainfall in Blencathra and 90mm in Keswick, in Cumbria, while Stonyhurst in Lancashire saw 82mm of rain.
Sky News weather presenter Nazaneen Ghaffar said: “In the next 24 hours, rain will be heading in from the west again, hitting Ireland around mid-afternoon (4pm) and the rest of the UK this evening (6/7pm).
“This rain will move through quickly but still have some heavy and thundery downpours bringing around 10 to 15mm of rain widely, but for the far north and the far south there could be a further 20 to 30mm of rain, which of course isn’t good news for already flooded parts in Cumbria and Lancashire and other areas with already saturated ground from previous rainfall.”
Severe flooding hit parts of West Yorkshire, particularly in the Calderdale area, including Mytholmroyd, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge, causing major travel disruption.
Barry Goodman, of Hair There in New Road, Hebden Bridge, rushed to the salon in the early hours to find the premises flooded.
He told Sky News: “The water filled the shop up. We moved everything up. It’s the disappointment of not being able to do the service that we normally do.
“People come for their hair doing every day. They come at the weekend – we’d a very busy day due – and they are all going to be disrupted,” he added.
At one point, West Yorkshire Fire Service issued a message saying it could only respond to incidents in which life was in danger due to the amount of calls.
Further north, firefighters in the Yorkshire Dales rescued five adults and four children from three cars stuck in flash flooding on the A684 in the Hawes area.
Flood waters in the centre of Mytholmroyd near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
A motorist was also pushed to safety on the same stretch of road near Bainbridge, and two women were rescued from a car trapped in floodwater at Carleton, near Skipton.
An 80-year-old pensioner was hospitalised with serious injuries following a collision in heavy rain in the Scottish Borders.
Sandbags were being handed out to residents of Croston, in Lancashire, which was effectively cut off after flood water blocked all the main roads into the village
Up to 40 properties were identified as being “at risk”.
Andrew Edmundsen, the landlord of The Black Horse, in Croston, said: “At the moment we are an island.
“All three roads that lead in are flooded. If you’re in you’re in, if you’re out you’re out. There’s some houses that have been evacuated because they’ve been flooded.
“The water level is to the top of the bridge.”
And a number of localised flash floods have caused problems for householders in the North West, where a number of evacuation centres were set up.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue service received up to 400 flood related emergency calls between 5.45pm on Friday and 3am on Saturday.
Firefighters were called to Chatburn, near Clitheroe, after four homes were flooded.
Lancashire Police said Darwen, Bacup and Leyland were also affected and two rest centres set up.
And in Greater Manchester, Oldham, Wigan and other areas near the River Darwen also reported flooding.
Flood water gushed through Hebden Bridge
Residents of around 20 homes in Wigan were evacuated and spent the night in a hotel. One street was under several inches of water after a culvert overflowed.
A spokesman for the region’s fire and rescue service said water was up to waist height in some places.
Firefighters were also asked to assist the RSPCA with rescuing six horses and four dogs from flooded allotments on Kellet Street in Rochdale.
The Olympic torch relay was also hit by the weather, with organisers being forced to cancel an outdoor event in Blackpool.
Holidaymakers visiting caravan and camping sites in the North West are being warned to be prepared to take action in the event of flooding and festival-goers are being advised to consult with event organisers before setting out.
It comes after people were stuck in queues of traffic for up to five hours on their way to the Isle of Wight festival.
Hundreds of music fans were forced to sleep in their cars with the roads gridlocked as the rain turned the festival into a mudbath.
Strong winds and heavy rain have forced the Great North Swim in Cumbria to be moved to Sunday, weather permitting, organisers said.
Around 900 people were set to take part in the two-mile swim on Friday.
The weather has also led to the cancellation of horse trials at Hutton-in-the-Forest, near Penrith.
Cumbria Police have advised residents and visitors to take care and to not attempt driving through floodwaters, while walkers planning excursions to the Lake District fells
have been warned to make sure they are properly equipped.